Ask Me Anything: Strength Training at Any Age with Chris Freytag

Published on ‎08-02-2021 10:31 AM by Guide | Updated on ‎08-03-2021 04:36 PM

AthletaWell strength training Guide Chris shares about strength training as the secret to aging gracefully and staying mobile. It's never too late to start! Learn her top tips for how to start, how much to strength train each week, and how to avoid injury.  At 55, Chris has been lifting and coaching others for decades, and she can't wait for you to get excited about it, too.


Drop your Qs for Chris below including—


-What are the health and lifestyle benefits for strength training for women?

-How should I modify my strength training regimen for my 30s, 40s, 50s, and beyond?

-Will weight training make me "bulky?"


Leave your questions for Chris in the comments section below, and she'll answer your question by 10am PT on 8/17.

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Are squats really something I should be doing every day? How often should I do them if I want to build leg strength and and muscle?

So squats are one of the best lower body exercises. And they are a little bit easier on the knees for most people than lunges. How often should you do them… Well it all depends on what type of workouts you are doing. Bodyweight squats you can do everyday… but if you are doing weighted squats like back squats, front squats, kettle bell squats… and your muscles are sore the next day… Give them a rest. Typically if you haves DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) then you do want to give your muscles a day or two to repair before you go after it again.  I tend to do lots of group fitness focused workouts that involve squats and lunges 3 to 5 days a week.  However if I’m super sore I will definitely take a couple days off!  Oh yeah and to build strength and muscle… You have to break down the muscle fibers so they can repair and get stronger. Strength training is how you break them down… Feeding them protein for recovery and repair is smart. 


How often should you strength train and cardio? 2 - 3 x for both?  I am 41.  I am very active and my metabolism has slowed I think and I am having trouble keeping weight off even if I monitor food intake etc.  

So the CDC sets the activity guidelines for adults and they recommend 150 minutes of heart pumping cardio every single week… You divide it up however it works in your schedule. Heart pumping means breathing through your mouth not through your nose… So not a slow walk but a power walk or some thing more where you feel like your heart rate is in a zone where you can talk but not incessantly.  The CDC recommends 2 total body strength training sessions a week and they give no guidelines… They basically want people to use all muscle groups and not be intimidated by rules.  I agree with that people often get bogged down by rules. So do some thing that uses all your muscle groups every week and use weights that will help you fatigue within 12 to 15 repetitions. The reason I have always loved group fitness instruction is because it basically allows you to follow a work out created for you. You don’t have to make it up yourself.!  I understand feeling like you might be entering perimenopause although you are still fairly young at 41. But your hormones start to fluctuate and that can cause a lot of different symptoms however if you stay steady with cardio and strength training that will definitely help you get through the crazy thing we all call menopause. I am turning 56 in a couple months and I went through menopause at about age 51. And I am here to tell everybody that strength training an exercise seriously saves your metabolism, keeps your muscle mass up, and helps keep you sane!!!


In the past, strength workouts with high reps and 3 & 5 lb weights were effective for me.  As I get older, it’s more difficult to maintain muscle mass.  I wonder if lifting heavier weight is the only way to see results.  Thanks in advance!

Well starting at about the age of 35… We start to lose about a half a pound to a pound of muscle a year if we are not actively replacing it. The keywords here are “if you are not actively replacing it! “. So that is why strength training is so important as we age. Muscle helps keep your metabolism revved, keeps your joints healthy, keeps you feeling capable both mentally and physically, helps with the fluctuating hormones, Etc.  and I do enjoy classes like barre class, yoga sculpt class where we use the 3 and 5 pound weights. But as we get older it will definitely be to your advantage to pick up some heavier weights. Do some strength training where you are using weights that are heavy enough to fatigue you in 10 to 15 repetitions. It will help you maintain and even build muscle mass as you get older.!


Hi Chris. I'm in my late 40s and struggling with the physical changes that come with this stage and menopause. I do a combo of cardio and strength training each day with 1-2 days of yoga and walking. Despite my efforts, maintaining or improving muscle mass is a challenge to say the least. What advice can you share about a workout routine (cardio/weights ratio) through the menopausal years that provides both balance and prolonged strength & wellness? Thank you. 

Well it sounds like you’ve got a good routine doing a combo of strength and cardio most days with one day of yoga. My question would be how intense are you exercising? Are you sweating, are you getting your heart rate up where you are breathing through your mouth?  are you using heavy enough weights where you feel fatigue and even muscle soreness some days? Are you working through a total range of motion? And then of course the big question is what are you eating… As we get older what you eat is seriously the number one big deal.!!! You can’t out train a bad diet and as we get older chemicals, food coloring, fake sugars, additives, mess up our hormones… And they are already fluctuating… And it results in inflammation, belly fat, low energy and so much more. So really paying attention to your diet is a big deal!!!

Hi Chris, my cardio workouts are usually pretty intense. I use my Peloton bike daily and other than low impact days I always end up a sweaty, hot mess. I follow a full body strength schedule, that focuses on one area a day (like lower body, chest/back, arms/shoulders, etc) along with 10 min core. It's been a big help to find structure and routine in strength training. As for weights, I usually use 8-20 lbs depending on exercise.  I've been trying to edit my diet a good bit and am slowly seeing progress thanks to the changes. Your advice gives me the encouragement to stay focused on food and be patient all while continuing my workout routine. Thanks for your input! 

Great workout routine... YES - focus in on the diet - do you count macros?  That may help you better understand what and why to eat! I talk about macros alot - you don't have to count forever - but it's eye opening .. I did a whole hour long talk on them a few weeks ago - here is the link :  I'm going to also do a zoom for this Athleta Well coming up end of August!!  

I used to log food in MyFitnessPal but never truly understood how to determine my macros for my wellness goals. I will take a look at that video today and keep my eye out for the zoom later this month. I'm open to doing it, I find it does help see the big picture more completely. Do you have an app you recommend or do you also use MyFitnessPal?


I have been unable to train due to injury. I have been doing 10 min arm class with low weights.  Is it the weight or the reps that will strengthen and tone my arms.?  

Good question. Sorry that you were injured hopefully he will be able to use your whole body soon…   but to answer your questions about whether or not lighter weights are good enough… So we all need to train both muscle endurance and muscle strength. Muscle endurance is best trained with low weights high repetitions. It helps you do daily activities that involve repetition… Like raking your lawn, shoveling your driveway, painting a wall, etc. muscle strength is trained with heavier weights less repetitions. Heavier weights would be considered something that fatigues you within 10 to 15 repetitions. You use your strength when you pick up a super heavy box. Or when you move furniture, or when you are carrying in heavy groceries, etc.   in a perfect world you would do both. But I do find that most women tend to gravitate towards the lighter weights. And I always remind women do not be afraid of heavier weights most women  will not bulk up. !  Heavier weights will help you define and sculpt your muscles as well as get stronger.

Thank you 


Hi Chris. First, thank you to Juli, for writing my thoughts nearly exactly. I, too, am nearing menopause and have just under 3 years until I’m 50. I am strong and have an athletic build. I have lots of muscle mass, but with age the skin around my thighs and arms is starting to sag.  I need an arm workout for biceps and triceps to burn and build.  I particularly want to know the cardio to strength training ratio. A trainer once said 10 minutes of cardio and then all strength training for the rest of your  workout. I’d like to get advice on this from you, too. 

Thank you, 


Hi Jamee, it's nice to hear I'm not alone! Yes, skin elasticity is a real struggle these days too. Sounds like you and I are almost the same age. Excited to learn more today from Chris! 

So here’s the deal… Menopause is such a hard time of life. I wish I could be talking to you on zoom instead of typing LOL but strength training and cardio will help you get through no doubt!! Quickly to answer about sagging skin… That happens as we get older I know it stinks. But it also is a part of aging and I have tried to look at the beautiful side of aging and understand that I don’t look like I’m 25 anymore but I do take care of myself for someone my age. I do have saggy dry skin on my thighs and my arms. You are not alone !!!  Now….I said in an earlier question that the CDC recommends 150 minutes of heart pumping cardio every single week. And that is to keep your heart muscle healthy. Which everybody should be doing. So I disagree with the 10 minutes of cardio. Not only does a good cardio workout leave you feeling mentally cleansed but it’s great for your heart muscle, and burning off extra calories as our daily lives are becoming more sedentary. I noticed that as I get older I don’t have little kids to chase anymore and I have a lot more time to sit in a chair and work on my computer. Therefore cardio is my saving grace. But that being said getting in strength training is equally as important if not more important in some aspects. A lot of women get weak as they get older and so it’s really important to keep your joints and muscles conditioned and strong. And that takes consistency. So getting in your weighrs 2 to 4 days a week is what I recommend!   In the last decade I have become a huge fan of circuit an interval workouts where you are getting your heart rate up during a strength training workout. Therefore multitasking which is a favorite for us females :-)!   I have talked group fitness for 30 years and find these types of workouts to be super effective. I also run an online streaming service for workouts. And have over… I guess close to 400 workouts now on my program :-)!!

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I'm 43 and enjoy HIIT workouts, but I also run (3x a week; 5k) and lift weights.  What would be the best schedule to fit in all three? I work full time so two a days really isn't feasible. Open to suggestions for all disciplines without burnout.  Thanks!  

Oh my goodness sounds like you are quite active and running is so great if your body can handle it.!  I would never suggest two a days for us ladies as we are in our 40s 50s 60s plus- if you are training for a sport perhaps you need to back for us normal people that would be too much on your joints. That being said I treat my HIIT workouts as my strength training workouts. I’ve been teaching fitness for 30+ years and when I teach ahead class… It is a combo of strength and cardio so the best of both worlds. Are used 12 to 15 pound weights and miss all my muscle groups and I count that for my strength training. I do HIIT OR CIRCUITS Three days a week and I power walk three days a week. I try to do yoga one day a week. That is my schedule. I really need at least one day of rest… Or yoga so that my body and joints can recover. Of course I’m 56 almost so a little older😉. But the bottom line is I use weights at least three days a week whether it’s in a Hiit  workout strength workout only. So you can get an idea of the types of workouts I do --go ahead and look at my website. Go to the gold workouts. And sort by type. Click on HIIT and CARDIO/STRENGTH To see what these workouts look like!